Icom makes fine radios.
On Profligate, we have an Icom VHF radio. Nice piece of equipment.
We also have an Icom 802 SSB radio, which experts say is the best least-expensive SSB radio for small to medium-sized sailboats. So far it’s worked just fine.
But as others have found, it would only be a matter of time before the Icom was no longer a good SSB because the microphone wouldn’t work.
For some reason, there are flex points near both ends of the 802 microphone and plug where the protective wiring wears through, meaning it’s only a matter of time before it fails. This is unlike the wiring on the Icom VHF, which has taken plenty of abuse.
Perhaps Icom has fixed this problem on newer radios. But it was a problem on many Icom 802s in the past. So if you’re one of the many owners of an Icom 802 who are about to head off for Mexico and the South Pacific, you may want to check out your microphone. We did and replaced ours. Alas, the new one looks just like the crappy old one.
Renewing License Failure
Every 10 years you are required to get your boat radio license renewed. It’s not cheap, as it’s $220 — although it is good for 10 years.
Because the Wanderer moves around a lot, the mail from the FCC about the impending renewal didn’t catch up to him until the deadline had passed. No big deal, except the FCC says that if we want to renew and keep our old call sign, it will cost $440, not just $220, because it includes a $220 fine for being late.
If, on the other hand, we simply signed up for a new radio license, and thus got a new call sign, it would only be $220. Does that seem backward or what? It seems as though it should cost more to get a new license.
Making it even stranger, even if we get a new call sign, the woman at the FCC says she thinks we can keep our MMSI number.
A lot of people get emotionally attached to their call signs. The Wanderer isn’t one of those. But if you are, make sure you renew your license in time.